The Historical Archives consist of some 19,000 records of the Irish College – building and collegiate community.

The chronological period covered by this collection is from 1316 to 1999.

The largest volume of archives is formed by the Irish collegiate community archive: those of the Irish College and buildings situated in and around the capital, which were owned by the Irish community, with an extensive section on the Arcueil (Val-de-Marne) country house, as well as files on members of the College administration.

One might be surprised to find medieval documents in the collection of an institution founded in the 16th century. In fact, these correspond to documents and property deeds on parchments concerning the Collège des Lombards, which were sent to the Irish community when it occupied the buildings in the rue des Carmes, which the Irish community occupied up until the Revolution.
Further historical details

The collection also has a section on the grant foundations that funded Irish students who came to study in Paris. The Irish College in Paris probably fulfilled the role of "Mother House" in relation to the other institutions based in France, which may explain why the collection has documents concerning institutions situated in Bordeaux, Douai, Nantes, Rouen and Poitiers. Furthermore, the merging that took place at the start of the 19th century for the administration of the Irish College, Scottish College and English Seminary saw the addition of archival material relating to these institutions.

Given that the Collège des Irlandais was mainly a place for instructing priests, the collection includes a number of documents on the Church and the religious community, with letters concerning ordinations and missions as well as official correspondence with senior members of the clergy. A collection of books, reviews, articles and press cuttings, brochures, leaflets and photographs can also be found in the collection.

The presence of private Archives, particularly those of Antonio de Arauz y Bexaxano in Spanish, is of interest.

It is worth noting the presence of over one hundred objects (medals, keys, boxes, cloth bags with tokens, inkpots, frames, etc).

Most of the collection is in French or English, but one can also find items in Latin, Greek, Gaelic, Spanish, Italian, German, Dutch, Russian, Polish, Chinese, and Turkish.

An extensive conservation project was undertaken on the archives. In order to promote the collection, 4300 have also been digitized and are accessible via the Historical Archives catalogue

Preservation and classification of the collection

The entire collection has probably been reorganised several times and was certainly moved and taken out of the college, particularly during the French Revolution. Certain documents have been ripped up, the seals of medieval charters have been cut or torn off with a part of the document. Traces of mould give the impression that the collection was stored in a damp place, perhaps a cellar. A system of classification marks can be seen on the 18th century documents, but we do not have the information at our disposal to clearly establish how it was organised. Labels have been stuck on some of the documents and registers, probably in the 19th or 20th century, which leads us to believe that a second identification system was used. Once again, we do not have any further information to clarify the situation.

The only inventory is that which was performed by Father Liam Swords in 1979. He made an inventory of the entire collection by attributing classification marks to each document and each file. These classification marks are composed of a number and a letter (example: 1A), the figure corresponding to the box number and letter designating the file. When Liam Swords wanted to add to the level of description (to sub-file or document), he added a third, or even a fourth element to his classification mark (example: 3D1j). During his work, he probably made an inventory of a section of the files by leaving them in the order and the condition in which he had found them. He also artificially recreated certain files, either by classifying them by themes, or by classifying them by dates. His inventory is partly typed, partly handwritten. There was then no more work done on the collection until the Centre Culturel Irlandais started to evaluate the cultural heritage of its Historical Archives and Old Library.

In 2007, the Centre Culturel Irlandais called in the society Grahal i-doc to create a new classification for the collection. As the original classification has been lost due to the successive handling of and work on the files, we decided to reclassify the entire collection by using a thematic organisation, which involves the creation of a new listing system. During the checks, one or several themes were determined for each archived file. If the documents contained in a file covered several themes, this was arranged according to the identified themes. Tests have also been carried out on the documents, particularly for the medieval archives, but also for several photographs, works, etc. The classification marks of Liam Swords have been retained in order to establish a correspondence between his listing system and the new classification marks. For the files not listed by Liam Swords, a replacement classification mark was used in the form of a letter. These files appear in the concordance table of the classification marks with the note "not listed" preceding the letter (Example: not listed (B)). The classification plan created is thematic with a chronological classification of the documents within the files.

The classification plan is formed by the following six categories:

  • A - College
  • B - Scholarship and mass foundations
  • C - Other institutions
  • D - Church
  • E – Documentation
  • F - Other documents

The classification marks are constructed in the following way:

  • A capital letter that corresponds to the category
  • A number that corresponds to the sub-category
  • A small letter that corresponds to the theme
  • A number that corresponds to the file number.

Example: the classification mark A1.a1 corresponds to:

  • category A (college),
  • sub-category 1 (Collège des Lombards),
  • theme 1 (notarial deeds),
  • file number 1 (deed of sale on parchment for two houses in rue Saint-Hilaire, sold by Jean Jourdain, curate, and his sister Yolène, wife of Jean Misieu, to Michel Chosse, cleric, on the Thursday following Saint Honoré 1316, i.e. 20 May 1316)

At the same time as creating the inventory and classification of the Archives, a procedure for removing dust and repairing the documents was carried out by In-Extenso. Reconditioning with specific substances appropriate to the documents (parchments, photographs, registers, etc) took place following this work. The whole collection represents approximately 16 linear metres.

Additional bibliography